Scrap It: An Historian Contemplates Her Imaginary Photo Albums

People approach personal recording keeping in different ways. Historian Rachel Cope, who clearly chose the right profession, kept her dolls as a child so future scholars could see how children’s toys changed over time. I approach record keeping by feeling bad about doing it too little.A year and a half ago, when I learned I had cancer but did not yet know the prognosis would be positive, the weight of two unfinished projects immediately settled in to haunt me. The first was my dissertation. M … [Read more...]

Community of Christ Sings: A New Hymnal for a Divided Global Church

“You hold in your hands a vital mission tool!” proclaims the foreword of the Community of Christ’s new hymnal, Community of Christ Sings—the first comprehensive hymnal issued by the church since 1981. This new worship resource contains 664 hymns, responses, chants, and praise songs; half of these songs have never appeared in the church’s past hymnals. Perhaps the most consequential part of Community of Christ Sings lies in its “core repertoire,” or more than 100 specially selected songs that are … [Read more...]

How Old Almanacs Help to Explain the “Nones”

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Huntington Library looking at almanacs from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Strangely, looking at them historically illuminated for me the category “nones” (people who affirm no particular religious tradition). I think of almanacs as the smart phones of an earlier era, or, more accurately, smart phones as the present-day, more interactive versions of the earlier almanacs. These old almanacs are a compact source of numerous layers of information. They g … [Read more...]

The “Value” of the Book of Mormon

As part of a project I’m currently at work on, I’ve been reading as systematically as possible through the literature on the Book of Mormon that has been produced by adherents to the Community of Christ movement (formerly, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). It’s been a remarkably instructive experience for me, and I hope that the written result of my studies will be available in published form at some point. In the meanwhile, I thought I’d offer a few reflections on jus … [Read more...]

March Global Mormon Studies Madness!

 Making up for lost time, Spring 2014 will see a flurry of global Mormon studies explorations with THREE exciting conferences at Brigham Young University (Provo and Salt Lake City, UT, March 6-7), Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA, March 22), and Utah Valley University (Orem, UT, Spring 2014). The program for the "Global Crossroads" conference on March 22nd is already out and features a star-studded cast including Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Joanna Brooks, and Gina Colvin. … [Read more...]

If Your Sexual Thoughts Were Like My Asthma

When my mother was at BYU in the 70's, her bishop came into Relief Society and explained to the college-aged women that they were not dressing modestly enough. Why? Because their knee-length and calf-length skirts were baring their ankles and making it difficult for the men in their ward to control their thoughts. I'm talking about the 1970's, not the 1870's.If you're Mormon, or simply know Mormons, you've probably heard a lot about modesty and the way it's taught. And if you're like me, … [Read more...]

God Gives US TV Sets To Please Our Eyes and Gladden Our Hearts: Two Mormon Views of the Prosperity Gospel

Here's a brief transcript from a filmstrip intended for Mormon audiences, "The Lord's Laws of Prosperity." It's undated, but the LDS Church Library places it in the mid-1960s. Narrator: Certainly it is within the province of the Lord to bring prosperity to anyone he considered worthy of it....Man: Is he talking about spiritual prosperity or temporal prosperity?Narrator: (Chuckle) I’d say both.  He says The good things of the earth.”  I’m sure the Lord requires that we acknowledge his han … [Read more...]

On the Virtues of Old People

Among Mormons, there is a classic short film produced by the LDS Church many years ago, called The Mailbox (1977). The Mailbox tells the story of Lethe, an 83-year-old widow who lives a quiet, solitary existence interrupted only by the visits of a neighborhood child—and pines for news from her children, who never write. It’s a rare example of Mormon tragedy, and even in all of its late-seventies glory, the film still packs an emotional punch today. … [Read more...]


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